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Check out the photo-sharing Web site Flickr for an assortment of science and technology advertisements from the 1950s and 1960s. It is wonderfully evocative of the times, both in design and content.

A cold war mentality shows clearly, as well as an uncritical belief in the power of science to solve all human problems. The color and typography are delightfully retro, but one also sees design elements that foreshadow contemporary tastes.

A few of my favorites from the collection:

  • Martin | Denver, who claim they can create a “total celestial climate” with their engineering solutions. Huh?
  • A Beckman ad: “How much sass in a glass of lemonade?” What a clever way to draw attention to the simple act of measuring pH in aqueous solutions.
  • From DuPont: “How Teflon 100 anchors this relay team.” The "relay" is an electrical one for a missile system, and the graphic impact is so ’60s it will make you feel like a hippie.
  • Fairchild offers “Human Horizons” in an ad that promotes semiconductor technology to create devices for the orthopedically challenged. A forerunner to the Dow “Human Element” campaign?
  • And then there is Burroughs: “You may be just the man to help squeeze a million transistors into a cubic inch.” It’s blissfully unaware of the modern aversion to sexist language, and hopelessly non-predictive of the hundreds of billions of transistors that could be crammed into a square inch today.

Posted In: Education

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